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  1. #1
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    DH vs Enduro geometry

    Spending part of the year in CO as of a couple of years ago. Since I couldn't surf in CO, I did the natural thing and bought a mountain bike. I didn't know much about it at the time, but I was instinctively drawn to the kind of riding that takes big suspension and brakes. I got talked out of buying a downhill bike, but I bought a long travel enduro (180/180), with big brakes (205mm front/180 rear), which is good because I'm 6' tall and pushing 200lb. Brakes get hot with my weight.

    For my downhilling skill level, I'm guessing my enduro bike is fine. BUT I think DH bikes are badass, and I almost always shuttle or hike-a-bike my enduro anyway, so I think I'm going to sell it and buy a basic DH bike like an alloy Demo 8. I have other cheap bikes for riding easy trails with climbs in them.

    Anyway, my question: On my enduro (XL size frame), I have a hell of a time popping/unweighting the front end because the reach to the bars is both long and low. And wheely'ing is just about out of the question. So the question: Does the typical DH bike have high enough handlebar geometry to make lifting the front end any easier than it is on a typical enduro?

    I ask, because I'm assuming some DH people here have ridden enduro bikes in the past if not still ride them.

    -Peter

  2. #2
    Big M, Little organ.
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    Long time downhiller in CO. I have an ďenduroĒ bike (160/170) so I sold my DH bike in 2016 and have been using that at the bike parks. I just got a new dedicated DH bike for this summer. There is no substitute for a DH bike IMO.
    That being said, unless you are riding winter park/keystone/angelfire/etc do not bother with a DH bike. Youíll never get anywhere near the speed they become useful on multi use trails. Please donít try to shuttle a multi use/bi-directional trail as a DH trail. Itís like buying a drag car and trying to race it around your neighborhood. It wonít be much fun and best case it will piss everyone off.
    As far as wheelies, no, they arenít easier on a DH bike IMO. If anything, youíve got more weight and generally a longer wheelbase which will make it more work. You can wheelie anything with 2 wheels though.

    It sounds like you have a really nice bike already. Iíd keep it and rent some DH bikes at resorts to see what you like. My 2 cents.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Organ View Post
    Long time downhiller in CO. I have an ďenduroĒ bike (160/170) so I sold my DH bike in 2016 and have been using that at the bike parks. I just got a new dedicated DH bike for this summer. There is no substitute for a DH bike IMO.
    That being said, unless you are riding winter park/keystone/angelfire/etc do not bother with a DH bike. Youíll never get anywhere near the speed they become useful on multi use trails. Please donít try to shuttle a multi use/bi-directional trail as a DH trail. Itís like buying a drag car and trying to race it around your neighborhood. It wonít be much fun and best case it will piss everyone off.
    As far as wheelies, no, they arenít easier on a DH bike IMO. If anything, youíve got more weight and generally a longer wheelbase which will make it more work. You can wheelie anything with 2 wheels though.

    It sounds like you have a really nice bike already. Iíd keep it and rent some DH bikes at resorts to see what you like. My 2 cents.
    What he said.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input, guys

    -Peter

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    Keep what you have and get better brakes if you need them.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    Keep what you have and get better brakes if you need them.
    You're probably right. The only reason I am thinking of going to a DH bike is that I think they are badass, and I pretty much never ride my enduro uphill anyway. I either walk it up hills that are too steep to pedal, or shuttle or ski lift.

    If I'm riding hills that are flat enough to be pedaled up, I usually break out a cheap hardtail for that.

    -Peter

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    You're probably right. The only reason I am thinking of going to a DH bike is that I think they are badass, and I pretty much never ride my enduro uphill anyway.
    DH bikes are pretty badass, but only if you have some badass trails to ride them on. If you feel like you are pushing past your comfort zone on your current bike, then a DH bike will help. If not, a DH bike will likely make those trails less fun.
    No dig no whine

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]

    Anyway, my question: On my enduro (XL size frame), I have a hell of a time popping/unweighting the front end because the reach to the bars is both long and low. And wheely'ing is just about out of the question. So the question: Does the typical DH bike have high enough handlebar geometry to make lifting the front end any easier than it is on a typical enduro?
    What length stem do you have on your enduro? You say the reach is too long. Are you running a 35mm stem? If not, that is the first place to start. A stem that short doesn't have the length to give much rise, so adding spacers, and/or getting a higher rise bar is the only way to accomplish that. Adding spacers probably isn't much of an option, assuming the fork's steerer was cut to length without any excess spacers.

    As for DH bike vs enduro geometry in relation to bar height, I haven't spent enough time comparing stack height between the two categories. But, DH bikes typically fun 203mm forks, which have a tall axle to crown height to accomodate that much wheel travel. However, some 180mm forks have comparable axle to crown measurements. I recall that my Fox 36/180mm/26" single crown fork from a few years back had the same axle to crown length as the same years Fox 40 dual crown.

    The dual crown may give you a little bit of wiggle room for setting the upper crown height and adding some spacers, but that depends on your frame's heat tube length and the fork manufuacurer's recommendations as to min/max distance between the upper and lower crown. Some fork manufactuer's offer a drop crown to accomodate taller head tubes. All that is to say, that you may find some combos of DH frame and fork that allow you to run higher stack height.

    DH bikes running direct mount stems also have more flexibility to add stem rise that a comparable lenth traditional steerere mounted stem that you find on a single crown enduro bike.

    So, long story short, you can probably find a DH bike setup that allows you to run a higher bar height than what you have now, but it may not be easy (or cheap) if you buy a DH bike that isn't set up for the maximum bar height already and you have to swap crowns/steerers/stems etc...

    I'd do what others suggested, and rent a couple DH bikes to get a feel for if it works for you. And consider a shorter stem and/or higher rise bar on your enduro if the DH bike rentals don't float your boat.

    Also, since it sounds like you may still be fairly new to riding, I would also take a look at your technique for manuals and wheelies. Make sure you're doing a proper rearward weight shift, as opposed to pulling up. Some bikes are definitely easier to wheelie/manual that others, but I don't think a DH bike is going to be easier to manual or wheelie that what you are on.
    No dig no whine

  9. #9
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    Fantastic info guys. It may very well be the case that my difficulty raising the front end is my own undeveloped technique. I just know that my other bikes, which are old cheap hard tails that I converted to cruisers by adding bmx bars to, are super easy to wheelie. For the record, I'm not super interested in just wheelying around here and there. It's just that in the course of riding, I want to have confidence that I can lift off the front for certain obstacles/features. There's a place near my house that has a simple three foot drop off a concrete wall, down to a flat surface. I want to have the confidence to ride straight off of it and land mostly flat and not in an endo... That kind of thing.

    -Peter

  10. #10
    Oh, So Interesting!
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    XL frames are generally made for people over 6'2" to 6'3" or so and may come with a longer stem. It might be too long?

    I also had a DH bike until '16, wish I still had one but bikes are expensive, my Trek Slash is very capable and I just don't ride resorts as much as I used to.

  11. #11
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    Interesting. I wonder the same thing now. If I measure the distance from the bar clamp to the seatpost and post it up here, will that give you any indication to compare against my very medium, 6 foot height?

    -Peter

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    Interesting. I wonder the same thing now. If I measure the distance from the bar clamp to the seatpost and post it up here, will that give you any indication to compare against my very medium, 6 foot height?

    -Peter
    Nah, you can just go to Spec's website and get the reach specs. I'm not familiar with SPec sizing so I may be wrong, they usually have suggestions on the website for sizing too, or just call them up.

    I'd agree that a shorter stem, if possible, is the place to start rather than a shorter frame but a size L frame may be more ideal.

    I've been fairly shocked at how capable my new Slash 9er is at 150mm travel... besides the burly Fox 40, it's as capable as full on dh bikes were maybe 5 years ago.

    It is interesting that DH geo does move to trail bikes. I had an '09 Session 88 and my '14 Slash 27.5 geo was nearly an exact copy.

  13. #13
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    I've been ridding DH here in CO (mostly WP) for coming up on 10 seasons and at the beginning of last season I ditched the DH bike to ride my enduro (160/150 29er) bike exclusively. I've found that it shreds the gnar 90% as hard, yet its far more versatile, lighter and overall a less taxing machine to be on all day.

    I'd suggest you go ahead and give ridding the enduro bike a try for at least most of a season and see how it works out for you. You can always ride that mostly and demo some DH sleds to mix it up and compare.

    there's also a lot of killer ridding out there besides whats accessible on a chairlift, so I wouldn't sell the enduro bike, but instead just add a DH bike to the stable if you really want when you can afford it. maybe even consider moving to a 160 or 150mm enduro bike that will be even more versatile for self-shuttling.

    i've taken mine to WP, Keystone, granby, angle fire, moab, sedona, whistler, squamish, bellingham, ect. you can shred pretty much anything know to man on a modern long, slack 160mm enduro bike.

    proper DH bikes can be hella fun, but i think its only essential if your ridding at a true race competitive pace on proper DH track trails.
    Tim M Hovey

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    Fantastic info guys. It may very well be the case that my difficulty raising the front end is my own undeveloped technique. I just know that my other bikes, which are old cheap hard tails that I converted to cruisers by adding bmx bars to, are super easy to wheelie. For the record, I'm not super interested in just wheelying around here and there. It's just that in the course of riding, I want to have confidence that I can lift off the front for certain obstacles/features. There's a place near my house that has a simple three foot drop off a concrete wall, down to a flat surface. I want to have the confidence to ride straight off of it and land mostly flat and not in an endo... That kind of thing.

    -Peter
    That is real easy to practice. All you need is a curb to ride off. You can get the timing and weight shift down.

    The weight shift for manualing to lift the front wheel up over an obstacle (or just to show off) and the weight shift to keep the front wheel up off a drop are essentially the same, though it's a bit more suttle on a drop off.

    Plenty of videos instructuional videos out there. Srart here:
    Mannuals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkWnV4RDzkU
    Drops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WURfF2CaaW0

    Back to practicing on a curb. Once you have the weight shift down, try riding off a curb and doing the weight shift to land both wheels at the same time. Keep doing that until you can land level every time.

    Now try doing the same thing slower. See how slow you can ride off the curb and still land level. Now speed it up. See how fast you can go. This will help a lot with getting a feel for how much effort to give the weight shift, and the timing of going off a drop.

    But, you're on a 6" curb, so no consequences.

    Now try giving it more effort so you land rear wheel first. Then give it less of a weight shift so that you can land slightly front wheel first. This will help you learn how to match the angle of your bike to the angle of the landing (whether it's a drop to flat or a drop to a transition).

    Once you have that down to where you can control the angle you want to land at and you have the timing down for varying speeds, you have all the skills you need to hit bigger drops.

    Then, it's just a matter of working your way up to bigger drops.
    No dig no whine

  15. #15
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    GRRREAT tips ^^^

    I'll definitely work on it.

    And Tim, your testimony about how versatile your enduro is matches what I believe too about my 180/180 enduro, (which has a Fox 36 front fork, BTW). I'm quite sure my enduro is a good as I actually need. It even had downhilly sized brakes 204/185 for my 200lb bulk. As I said, the only reason I'm entertaining a DH'er is simple frivolity. I think they're badass and I mostly shuttle or hike up trails too steep to pedal anyway. Also, I'm 50 and want to get in as much living as possible while I'm still strong and fit and my belly is still smaller than my inseam. That also means I'm at the top of my career and can afford a little frivolity as well.

    OT: By the way Tim, nice choice in cars. We have the "big brother" of your 540i, a 2003 M5. We have entertained selling it a couple of times over the years, but we just can't. It's the best street car we have ever owned. We only drive it on special occasions now, and it brings a smile to our faces every time. The rest of the time, it's trucks and econoboxes. Had a 1999 F250SD with gas V10. That was a great truck. Surprisingly good mileage while towing, though I'm sure not as good as a diesel. But not nearly as fun to drive as a BMW

    -Peter

  16. #16
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    Well, if you can handle the N+1 lifestyle, then hell yeah, go buy a DH bike! They are mega fun, and having multiple highly capable bikes lets you mix it up and pick the right bike for how your feeling or what your ridding for the day.

    180/180 is a big bike, even as far as enduro bikes go. If its the one i'm thinking of, a buddy brought one of those (demo) along for our Mount Barbour heli-drop last year, and that thing is a beast. I can't blame you for hike a biking that thing. If I would make a further recommendation, sell the 180mm bike after you buy your DH sled and get a lighter 160mm enduro bike (seriously consider making it a 29er, just saying). It will treat you well both up and down the hills of CO when you head out for a local trailride and will be an excellent weapon for heading out to Moab. Since your in CO, Moab is just a 5 hour run up i70 and you'll want to go hit the enchilada at minimum. Trails out there are awesome, but even the shuttle rides deliver a fair bit of climbing to go along with the mass amount of descending.

    Further trailing off topic... I dig my 540i, its in pretty good shape and has a variety of upgrades (M wheels, coilovers, exhaust, chip), but its pretty mellow to drive and mostly gets used as an extra car and for when i'm feeling to lazy to row gears in the truck. If it was the M5 with a 6spd i'd probably be in love with it, but its not and will likely go up for sale in the next couple of months. I still need a kraut rocket though, so I've been shopping for an E55 AMG. Should make a good lazy cruiser, while being a little more in line with the sort of power that i'm used to.

    The truck is a total hoot, its highly upgraded and making way over 600 horsepower. It does get surprisingly good millage, but mostly its just a blast to drive in the mountains. I guess that's one of the reasons why I tire of the 540, the big ol pickup is WAY faster, especially at altitude.
    Tim M Hovey

    Nukeproof Mega 290
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by davec113 View Post
    XL frames are generally made for people over 6'2" to 6'3" or so and may come with a longer stem. It might be too long?
    .
    first thing I thought....I am 6 foot and 210 and I ride a large.....

    sidenote ...been riding a lot enduro and switched back to the DH bike....I have more fun and feel more secure and confident with DH bike
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    Well, if you can handle the N+1 lifestyle, then hell yeah, go buy a DH bike!... snip... If I would make a further recommendation, sell the 180mm bike after you buy your DH sled and get a lighter 160mm enduro bike (seriously consider making it a 29er, just saying). It will treat you well both up and down the hills of CO when you head out for a local trailride..
    Taking your idea of keeping my DHer for DHing and selling my enduro to get something lighter, I was almost thinking of getting a high quality hardtail for easy local trails... What do you think? Or is that a little too extreme, minimalist?

    Quote Originally Posted by SHIVER ME TIMBERS View Post
    first thing I thought....I am 6 foot and 210 and I ride a large.....


    sidenote ...been riding a lot enduro and switched back to the DH bike....I have more fun and feel more secure and confident with DH bike
    Great perspective... Maybe I need to re-think the whole XL thing and really look at just L. Every time I ride my enduro on DH terrain, I find myself wondering if I would feel more secure and confident with a real DH'er as well. Thanks for that perspective.

    -Peter

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    Taking your idea of keeping my DHer for DHing and selling my enduro to get something lighter, I was almost thinking of getting a high quality hardtail for easy local trails... What do you think? Or is that a little too extreme, minimalist?
    well, why not I have a super light 29er hardtail with a 100mm fork, and it is fun to ride on the local trails every now and then, but in all honesty, I don't ride mine that much and that wasn't really what i was suggesting.

    What i would suggest is that you augment your DH bike (which would be used strictly for shuttling and lift service) with something you can still shred like a DH bike, but would also be happy to pedal all day for more epic rides and earn your turns on some of the more technical local trails that its fun to have a bigger bike on, but its a lot more fun to pedal than hike a bike. Around here, trails like buff creek, hall ranch and left hand canyon are a blast to charge like your on a DH bike, but you have to get yourself to the top. Furthermore, if you travel there are lots of places that offer terrain worthy of a DH bike, but you need something that can pedal. Since you'll be in CO, you HAVE TO make the trip out to Moab, but you need something that can pedal long distance, do some climbing AND hold its own through some seriously gnarly descending.

    The resorts and chairlifts are awesome, and you'll have a blast crushing those on the DH sled, but since you can afford the frivolity of a stable, a modern 160mm enduro bike opens up the possibility of enjoying (ish) all of this other terrain.

    lots and lots of bikes in this category these days, most in flavors of 29 or 27.5. examples; evil wrecking or insurgent, yeti sb6 or sb5.5, nukeproof mega 290 or 270, etc etc etc....
    Tim M Hovey

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  20. #20
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    Sort of on topic...Why do DH bikes tend to have a bit more rear travel than front travel? Many enduro bikes are the opposite with 10-20mm more travel in the front than the rear.

    My guess is because rear sag is set to a greater percentage and the forks are set up more progressive/stiff.

  21. #21
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    My only advice is to replace your rear rotor and caliper adapter with 203mm. Much better heat control and more consistant feel.
    Keep the Country country.

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